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Thursday, March 8, 2007

Draft Day Strategy - Starting Pitchers

Starting pitchers are an interesting breed, and there are always different ideas on where they should be drafted. Some say pitching stats are volatile, and the downside for any pitcher, even a top pitcher like Johan Santana, is much greater than it is for a hitter. These people say you should wait on pitchers and grab bargains later in the draft, where you're not investing too much. Others will tell you that there are only a few elite starting pitchers, and that it's necessary to grab at least one or two early.

Note: My strategy is designed for a twelve-team league with 2 SP, 2 RP, 3 P, 5 BN spots. (typical Yahoo! setup). For 8 or 10 team leagues, target these same guys, just wait an extra round or two on them - adjust accordingly.

I advocate a strategy of moderation, somewhere between these two strategies. Find the best values, and take advantage of them. I agree that you need one stable Ace in the first three or four rounds. This year, my pick is Jake Peavy, our #3 SP. The seventh pitcher taken overall, with an ADP (Average Draft Position) of Round 5.04, Peavy is a good value in the fourth round of a twelve team draft.

Round 1-3 and 5-6 should be used on hitters.
Round 7 should be used on your next value pitchers. My favorite pick here is Felix Hernandez. The first player profiled on the Saberoticians back in February, Hernandez is our #4 SP. In the 7th round, normally going off as the 14th SP in expert drafts, Hernandez is a great value. If he is gone, hope Ben Sheets falls to you. Sheets is our #2 SP, but always seems to be injured. I prefer Felix, but Sheets is good too. If both are gone, John Smoltz works too, but be a little upset you didn't get either of your top 2 choices.

Round 10 comes our next spot for SP value.
Curt Schilling, our #5 Starting Pitcher, is a fantastic pick this late in the draft. 'Experts' find him to be 27th best SP. Help me prove them wrong. At this point, you now have 3 of the best 5 Starting Pitchers on your team and only had to use 1 of your first 5 picks.

Here's where you can deviate a little if you choose. If you feel good about your offense and you think you can spare another pick in the early teens on a SP, Mike Mussina would be a great choice. A.J. Burnett is also a good guy to target here, or Rich Harden if he falls (although he is risky due to injury concerns).

Next comes a wave when you need to pick at least two, quite possibly all three of these guys. Javier Vazquez, Kelvim Escobar, and Dave Bush are all going off the board in the 17th Round on average, but if you didn't take Mussina or Burnett you may need to start in the 15th and go 1,2,3 in Rounds 15,16,17. If you miss out on one, Scott Olsen could be picked in his stead.

Wait until one of the last rounds to grab Jamie Shields, a guy we are fairly high on but isn't getting drafted.

If things worked out for you, you should be looking at a rotation of:
1. Jake Peavy
2. Felix Hernandez
3. Curt Schiling
4. Mike Mussina
5. Javier Vazquez
BN Kelvim Escobar
BN Jamie Shields

This rotation will be the best staff in your league, without compromising your offense. You'll still have Rounds 1-3, 5-6, 8-9, 11-12, 14-16, 18-25 for offense. That's plenty, considering all the great value guys we have found for offense. It may be a little overkill, so also consider going with:

1. Jake Peavy
2. Felix Hernandez
3. Curt Schiling
4. Javier Vazquez
5. Kelvim Escobar
BN Derek Lowe
BN Jamie Shields

Don't freak out if you miss out on somebody though. If you're lucky, Roger Clemens may fall into your lap in the late rounds. He isn't worth taking early because he will only pitch a few months, but he's a top 10 SP when he does throw. Also, Philip Hughes will be on the way towards the middle of the year, so be ready to pick him up off the Waiver Wire.

ADP information came from Fantasy Gameday


Anonymous said...

When do closers come into play in this system?

Patrick in Baltimore

Derek Carty said...

I recently posted on my Draft Day Strategy for Closers

Check it out!

Anonymous said...

Good stuff, thanks for this!